MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- A fraud alert as we head into the final weeks of the tax season: Police are reporting a surge of ID theft cases involving tax returns.

To make matters even more alarming, investigators said they haven t been able to determine exactly how the information was collected. They speculated that it could have been lifted from a credit card swiping machine, or possibly some other way.

Lynda Dietz learned that her social security number had fallen into the wrong hands when she got a letter from the IRS.

She had already filed her return weeks earlier. Then, a letter came addressed to Dietz and Susan Waite, someone Lynda had never heard of.

When Dietz called the Internal Revenue Service to explain, IRS officials told her that someone had already filed a tax return with her social security number.

Dietz said that really freaked her out. She's calmed down since, but remains angry over the damage that some stranger has done.

You earn a penny, or you earn $10 million. That's something you work for. And for someone to come in and take it like it's theirs, that's wrong, she said.

Milwaukie police said they've gotten reports of eight cases just like Dietz in recent weeks, and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office has taken reports about 20 more.

As for Dietz, she quickly took all the proper steps to protect her accounts, and said she hasn't noticed any other problems.

She had been hoping to get her refund early this time, but because of the fraud it might be a year before she sees that money.

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